February 1, 2011

$25 A Day: Cross Country Skiing

This article is part of a series aimed at helping families of four find activities in the area for under $25.

It's a little more challenging to find something the entire family likes to do during the winter months. We do like sledding of course, but we love nature and would love a great way to experience it when the snow falls. And that's when it hit me, why not take the family cross country skiing? On a trip to the sledding hill, I noticed that Rolling Hills also rented cross country skis, so I made a metal note to venture over when the next powdery snow would fall.

What I liked:
No matter the time of year, Rolling Hills (7660 Stony Creek Rd., Ypsilanti - Between Merritt and Bemis ) has beautiful, scenic trails, and costs very little to get into. For a carload of people to get into the park for a single trip, the park costs $5 for Washtenaw County residents ($9 for non-residents) or $25 for an annual pass.

To ski for 2-hours, equipment rental is only $5 (boots/skis/poles) on a weekend day or $3 during the week. Since this was a "try it" event for the family, the low-cost of the activity was very appealing to me. At most we paid $12 to try it one day after school (since we already had our annual pass).

The park has two mapped cross-country ski routes for amateurs or more experienced skiers, however we mostly tooled around the one playground closest to the lodge since it was our first try. the next time I go, I will plan on only taking my son and heading out for the easy cross-country ski route!

Parking is convenient to the rental center, sledding hill and warming lodge (with fireplace). We actually ended up sledding that same day since no one was on the hill too. It made for a nice after-school activity for us!

Cross country skiing with the family
is fun and great exercise!
Potential drawbacks:
The biggest challenges for the day centered around equipment rental. Ski rental might open up on weekdays when there is a snow day, otherwise you have to wait until 3:30 p.m. on weekdays to ski or wait for the weekend. Also, children younger than 6 may have difficulties getting ski boots to fit - the smallest size is for a child wearing a size 13 shoe. My daughter did borrow the bigger shoe for a little bit though and did just fine. Know too that there are only a few pairs of the smaller size cross country skis for children, so either get there early or call ahead for availability!

I would also love to see a snack bar available on weekends. Hot chocolate being sold onsite would be a welcome addition, however families can (and should) bring their own supplies to warm up in the lodge warming room after, or between, outdoor playtimes!

Rolling Hills Park
7660 Stony Creek Road
Ypsilanti, MI 48197-6611
(734) 484-9676

Cross-country skiing for Family of (4): $20
Park admission: $5

What else to bring: Hot beverages, warm clothing, a camera, and possibly a lunch tote filled with wonderful treats. Don't forget sleds for use after skiing too!

AnnArbor.com had a recent article on cross-country ski rentals, equipment and trails as well. For parents interested in taking kids cross country skiing or going skiing as a family, the article is worth checking out!

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